Wed Aug 5, 2015 9:55AM
Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame (© AFP)
Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame (© AFP)
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After much speculation, Rwanda's parliament has paved the way for a third term for president Paul Kagame. The people will be asked in a referendum to approve a change to the constitution.

So, is he just another African strongman determined to cling onto power, or is this a legitimate move to give the Rwandans what they want? Is Kagame different from other African presidents who want a third term?

The contrast couldn't be starker. While attempts to allow a third term for Blaize Compaoré and Pierre Nkurunziza were greeted with angry protests on the streets of Burkina Faso and Burundi, Rwanda's decision to hold a referendum on whether President Kagame should be allowed to stand for a third term was met with scenes of jubilation.

At least 3.7 million Rwandans had petitioned parliament to amend the Constitution - particularly article 101 which stipulates a president may serve no more than two terms of seven years. After speeches extolling Kagame's "incomparable achievements" in the areas of security, democracy and economic growth, 79 out of 80 MPs, and 23 out of 24 senators present voted to hold the referendum.

If Rwanda's 10 million population vote yes, then Mr Kagame will be allowed to run for a third term in 2017. Some Rwandan analysts say the president would rather step down, but the people will not allow him to do so, and their wishes should be respected.